Tutorials

Tutorials

Biology is taught using a mixture of lectures, skills training (including field courses), classes and tutorials.  The lectures lay down the syllabus of each course, and the skills training provides techniques essential for any modern biologist. Our lectures are designed to tell you about the important issues, theories and empirical research in biology,  while skills training gives you the tools you need to become a modern biologist. We also use small group teaching for experimental design and quantitative data analysis. Extra reading is encouraged, and this should increase as the course progresses.

Oxford University’s greatest asset is the tutorial system. This system means that you are likely to receive much more personal tuition and greater pastoral support than other universities can offer. The tutorial consists of a one hour meeting, once a week, between the tutor and two or three students. Before the tutorial, your tutor will set you an essay to write and provide you with a reading list.  You hand in the essay before the tutorial, which is read and commented on by your tutor, and handed back at the start of the tutorial.

The discussion during the tutorial goes beyond the original topic, giving you a chance to talk about your own ideas and opinions in modern biology. Tutorials are often in blocks of two or more, so that you can cover a topic in depth, and your tutor can get to know you personally. He or she is asked to comment on your performance in tutorials, and these comments are sent to your college at the end of each term.

Our tutors are very fond of addressing questions that none of us even thought to ask, and it really pushes us to question fundamental assumptions. I believe that learning from another human beats learning from papers or textbooks any day. Being able to bounce ideas off your tutors and your peers is very valuable and you end up with a much better understanding of the topic.

- Mavis, student